Be wary of surge in theft during holidays

Saturday, November 24, 2007 | 3:31 p.m. CST; updated 1:25 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

An unrelated robbery photo was briefly posted with this story.

COLUMBIA — Columbia police are urging residents to be cautious as robberies rise during the holiday season.

At about 7 p.m. Friday, a 61-year-old woman was getting out of her vehicle at her home in the 2100 block of Holly Avenue when a man approached her, Columbia police Capt. Stephen Monticelli said. The man grabbed her purse, but the woman held onto her purse and struggled with the man, who Monticelli said did not display a weapon. The man was able to get her wallet out of her purse and ran north from the home.

The woman was not injured in the robbery, Monticelli said.

The suspect was described as an 18- to 25-year-old black man with dark complexion, 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall, about 150 pounds, Monticelli said. The man was last seen wearing dark pants and a dark hooded sweatshirt.

Monticelli said robberies often increase around the holidays. He suggested that residents be attentive to their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to police. Monticelli also cautioned shoppers to keep packages in cars out of sight and to make sure they don’t let others see cash in their wallets while they’re shopping.

“With all the shopping going on, that also brings people who are looking for victims who aren’t being cautious,” Monticelli said.

Anyone with information about Friday’s robbery may call the Columbia Police Department at 874-7652 or CrimeStoppers at 875-8477.

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